Words to Live By
Still, Lynch points out two types of envelope “teasers” that do still work: “The first are those that ‘notify’ — e.g., ‘Your Annual Renewal Is Enclosed.’ The second are those that ‘clarify.’ For example, a nonprofit named after an obscure and virtually unheard of disease affecting children would likely benefit from a teaser along the lines of ‘Healing Sick Children Across America.’”
Kennedy adds, “The big exception to the no picture/teaser rule is prospecting to attendance-driven membership organizations like zoos and museums where you are using direct-mail buyer lists rather than donor lists. [Pictures are] a must.”
Do live stamps matter?
“A live stamp is a great investment,” Lapp reports: “I’ve seen a full-blown package with personalization and full-color components get beaten by a simple, scaled-back package with a live stamp.”
Huntsinger agrees: “From what I’ve seen in the past few years, live stamps, First Class or nonprofit, test out strong.”
But not every direct-mail planner agrees. Mal Warwick, president of Berkeley, Calif.-based direct-marketing fundraising agency Mal Warwick Associates, says, “In years past, I routinely saw live stamps — especially, live First Class stamps — dramatically improve response. In later years, I saw that approach work rarely with outgoing postage and only on reply envelopes. More recently, I have seen much less evidence that live stamps make a difference.”
Live stamps convey a degree of importance, but cost is a factor. While nonprofit stamps are attractive, there is the time and cost associated with affixing them. Terpstra suggests stamped mail be reserved for use in campaigns targeted to high-end active and lapsed donors.
Use your two seconds wisely
It only takes two seconds for your prospect to decide if she’ll read your fundraising letter. Clutter the carrier envelope with promises of benefits, cute art and catchy headlines, and you might miss the opportunity to win a new friend and contributor. Leave these techniques for commercial marketers with products to sell. You’re asking donors to share your passion and support your mission. When your message arrives at her door, be sure it’s properly dressed.